On Feb 21, 2013, at 11:20 AM, Paul Butler (pbutler3) wrote:

> For something like this I would go the hardware route.  A walkie-talkie on a charging stand at each service point. The walkie-talkies would always be on and tuned to the same channel. That way the staff person is not tied to the PC itself, they can grab the walkie-talkie and still do what they need to do - like head to the stacks or look for that reserve material. No phone number to remember. This solution could help with other issues, like security and system/network outages. 

I admit, I've never worked as a librarian, but I did work at a computer help desk during undergrad.

We had a policy of trying our best *not* to go into the computer labs, because if you did, you'd get 6+ people who suddenly had questions they wanted to ask ... but couldn't have been bothered to actually go to the office to ask.  When I first started, someone who went to go add paper to a printer might not come back for 30+ minutes.

(I realize that this policy likely won't work for a library, though)

Our follow-up policy was not the answer questions in the labs, and make them go to the office so they don't cut in line if there were people queued up.

... so I completely agree about needing something that's not fixed to a single location.  If you can make it beep on demand, that's even better.  ("oops, sorry, I've got to go, I've been summoned back to the desk")

If you're going to do something that's computer-based, I'd be inclined to think about some sort of phone app, or even part of a more comprehensive tool to assist in other things that you might need while you're in the stacks trying to help someone.